Super Bowl 50 Ads: Expect to See a Gender Role Reversal

Super Bowl 50

Ladies rejoice – watching the Super Bowl just became even more entertaining. Not only do we get to watch buff men from the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers battle it out on the playing field for hours, we can also expect to see more than a few Super Bowl 50 ads that are geared towards women this year (YASSSS!).

Just based on the previews of a few Super Bowl 50 commercials, it’s apparent that a gender role reversal is emerging. After years of watching sexy female models prance around in bikinis while eating burgers, or elegantly washing cars with their bums, women can now expect to see ads that are finally catered towards them.

Sexy male celebrities, adorable “wiener” puppies and family values are being portrayed now more than ever before in this year’s Super Bowl commercial line up. Take for instance Hyundai’s new Super Bowl ad featuring Ryan Reynolds:

Super Bowl 50 Ads: What Women Want

I certainly found Hyundai’s ad to be entertaining and appealing, and I’m clearly not the only one. Spot Trender, an industry leader in cloud-based ad-testing technology, recently announced the results of their third annual Super Bowl Ad Performance Test. Conducted for Super Bowl 50, Spot Trender’s test examined themes relating to sexuality and gender roles. On February 4, Spot Trender conducted a scientific poll with 1301 participants in a national representative sample. Each participant saw one commercial and completed an online questionnaire through Spot Trender’s platform.

The Hyundai ad was included in Spot Trender’s survey, followed by this question:

Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements about the ad: (strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)

  • It’s funny
  • It’s offensive

The conclusion was that both female and male participants found the Hyundai ad to be funny, yet interestingly enough more males were actually offended by it than females. 82% of male and female questionnaires thought the Hyundai ad was funny, while 13% of males either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that the Hyundai ad was offensive. Only 4% of females either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that the Hyundai ad was offensive.

“It’s interesting to pay attention to what respondents consider offensive, especially with the Hyundai commercial, which 13 percent of male respondents found to be offensive,” said Chris South, CEO of Spot Trender. “This is most likely a testament to the changing societal norms about gender roles, where more and more we are seeing nontraditional roles in the home and workplace. Marketers should be aware of this shift and take it into account when launching new campaigns.”

Other notable commercials to be on the look out for during Super Bowl 50 are Starbucks and Death Wish Coffee. Both of these ads can be compared to examine “masculinity” in advertising. The Starbucks commercial, for example, portrays a mother making herself a cup of Starbucks coffee on a lazy weekend morning, as she watches her children play. The Death Wish Coffee commercial takes an entirely different approach to advertising their coffee, and instead features a group of Vikings groaning and grunting at one another in accordance to the commercial’s theme, “fiercely caffeinated.”

Spot Trender’s survey also tested both the Starbucks and Death Wish Coffee commercials, asking the research question: “Does having a masculine brand help Death Wish sell more products compared to the more gender neutral Starbucks brand?” The results showed the answer to be ‘No,’ and that Starbucks performed much better than Death Wish Coffee did, which is an overwhelmingly masculine brand compared to Starbucks. Other results from Spot Trender’s survey include:

  • Starbucks’ ad performed much better with females in term of branding than Death Wish
  • 67% of females “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that Starbucks is “the brand for me”; 65% of females said it “fits my needs”; 47% of females said it was “affordable”; 76% of females said it was “premium/luxurious brand”; and said 79% of females said it was a “high quality product”

“When it comes to the Death Wish Coffee commercial, we are not so surprised that screaming Vikings didn’t perform as well with female respondents, nor are we by any means shocked that Starbucks outperformed such a lesser-known brand,” said Chris South. “However, while male respondents liked the ad and thought it was funny, they were no more likely to purchase Death Wish than Starbucks.”

Gender Norms are Indeed Changing

The Hyundai, Starbucks and Death Wish Coffee ads are just some of the many commercials you can expect to see during Super Bowl 50. While advertisers have expressed some of their best ideas to capture your attention this year, I’m almost certain that women will notice more than a few ads that portray a gender role reversal. However, when in doubt, we can always turn to the raw hard data to back up this theory. When asked about the gender role reversal being seen in this year’s Super Bowl ads, Rick Nguyen, president of Spot Trender, said:

“We are delighted to see that more advertisers this year took steps to adapt their commercials to the evolving landscape surrounding gender norms. The portrayal of women in the media is a very important issue to us at Spot Trender, which is why we decided to do our part by providing data for the discussion.”

The results from Spot Trender’s survey will also be posted on Spot Trender’s blog and Twitter account with the hashtag “#WomenOfSuperBowl.”

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